July District Report


Seasonal STACs sprinkled with Silver


GW STAC Success Story

Great Western and Western Conference. Similar sounds, but not the same. The Western Conference is the combination of three ACBL Districts - D17, D21, D22 (us) – with purposes of aiding, abetting and promoting tournament bridge out here in the wild, wild west. Great Western is a lead-in name given to the Western Conference-sponsored Sectional Tournaments at Clubs (STACs), instead of calling them Western Conference, because the tournaments include invited associate districts as well as ours – Districts 14, D15,  D18, D19, D20 & D23 – all western districts of the league, but not conference members. Total ACBL membership in these eight participating districts is about 50,000; needless to say, this generates very large turnouts for the thrice annual silver shower bonanzas.

The annual Spring Fling Great Western STAC is held in April. The Summer Fun STAC is played in August. And the Holiday STAC is always enjoyed in mid December.

Three seasonal weeks of fun bridge in your local clubs.


The past two years of the Spring Fling GW STAC have been huge in participation throughout the west ... 7971 bridge tables in play in 2009 and a Spring STAC record 8140 tables just reported last month. There have been national tournaments in the ACBL that did not draw that kind of attendance.

Following the low mark of the 2003 Summer Swiss Teams STAC, which had only 1204 tables of Swiss Teams, the Summer Fun open STACs (mainly pairs games) have built up to a huge 7175 tables, just last year. Much more popular since we made the change.

The late-year Great Western Holiday STACs - easily the largest sectionals ever recorded in bridge history - have averaged more than 8000 each tables annually for the past seven years with December, 2008, hitting a monstrous 8774 tables.

All together the three STACs total about 24,000 tables a year! Almost the size of the largest national NABC in history.


It’s no mystery why this Contract Bridge Forum is the only remaining monthly bridge newspaper in the country. Without income from the GW STACs we also would be toast, even though we enjoy the cooperative publishing efforts of the three Western Conference districts. I know this to be true because that tragedy nearly happened two decades ago. We simply could not make the overhead and postage expenses to continue, and were on the sad verge of disbanding. We were at ground zero and no place to go.

Mike Jones (deceased now, but the D21 District Director and WC board member at the time) listened to logic to try our own tournament, and he petitioned the league to let us attempt the first December STAC. Mike was persuasive; our first offering was a success, and the rest is welcomed history for our survival. The STACs now support at least 25% of the costs of Forum publishing and mailing. Our regional sanctions, Forum ads, and editorial charges cover the balance.

One Woman

All three Great Western STACs are directed by Betty Bratcher from her home in Vista, California. What a monstrous chore! The financial accounting is handled by Western Conference board member Teri Atkinson and Western Conference treasurer, Tom Shulman of Las Vegas. Our STACs are promoted to clubs and special games through our ads in this newspaper and colorful flyers we place at regional tournaments. Participation by clubs and units is by registration on either the ACBL or Western Conference web sites.

But our greatest advertisement is very, very happy club owners and players. Each GW STAC serves a critical dual purpose of raising finances to maintain our newspaper, and in promoting western bridge – a great twosome.

Itabashi Feeding Grounds

It is common to see players win 15-20 silver points in one club game, if they top the charts across all participants on any given GW STAC game. But Mark Itabashi, one of the premier players in our district, takes it to another level - he thrives on the offerings available. Mark is consistently in the top five finishers in points won during each of these week- long tournaments, and has been for some time. Witness his 45 silver points won last month in the Spring STAC to take top honors again. (He played twelve STAC sessions!)

Two things are very clear. This newspaper would not have survived without the Great Western STACs, and Mark Itabashi would not have nearly as many silver points. As if he needed them.


“Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.  – Italian Proverb